Dextran is a complex carbohydrate or polysaccharide composed of glucose molecules. It is produced by certain bacteria during fermentation processes. Dextran is commonly used in the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries for its thickening, stabilizing, and gelling properties.
Herein, Alfa Chemistry focuses on the multifunctionality of dextran in pharmaceutical systems, vaccine formulation, biomedical imaging, and tissue engineering.
Dextran in Drug Delivery Systems
Dextran has been extensively studied as a carrier for drug delivery due to its biocompatibility, biodegradability, and ability to encapsulate various drugs. Researchers are exploring different dextran-based nanocarriers and hydrogels for targeted and sustained drug release.
Dextran of various molecular weights can be prepared under a variety of synthesis conditions and used as components of drug delivery nanoparticles (NPs). It has been shown that different chemical moieties, such as drugs such as doxorubicin, can be attached to dextran nanoparticles through pH-dependent bonds, allowing drug release at reduced pH.
Dextran nanoparticle synthesis strategy. 
Dextran in Vaccine Formulations
Dextran has excellent biocompatibility, immunostimulatory properties and excellent water solubility, which make it a safe choice in vaccine formulations. Dextran can play a multifunctional role in vaccine formulations, such as a stabilizer, adjuvant, carrier and viscosity regulator, helping to improve the effectiveness, stability and immunogenicity of the vaccine. For example, dextran has been used in the formulation of the commercial Rotavirus (Rotarix) vaccine.
Dextran in Biomedical Imaging
Dextran-based contrast agents are widely used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) due to their ability to enhance signal intensity and provide better visualization of soft tissues. Ongoing research aims to improve the imaging capabilities, biocompatibility, and stability of dextran-based contrast agents.
The versatility of dextran enables its integration into different nanosystems such as micelles, nanogels and other polymer-based nanoparticles (PLGA, chitosan, etc.). Dextran-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles have been shown to be safe and biocompatible for biomedical applications as contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging.
Dextran-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. 
Dextran in Tissue Engineering
Dextran-based hydrogels and scaffolds are being investigated for tissue engineering applications. These materials can mimic the extracellular matrix and provide a suitable environment for cell growth and tissue regeneration. Researchers are exploring different strategies to enhance the mechanical properties and tailor the properties of dextran-based materials for specific tissue engineering applications.
Xiaoyu Wang et al. prepared injectable dextran-based hydrogels for cartilage tissue engineering through bioorthogonal click chemistry. In this study, a click cross-linked injectable hydrogel (Dex-N3) based on cytocompatible dextran was modified by azadibenzocyclooctyne-modified dextran (Dex-ADIBO) and azide modification Synthesized by metal-free alkyne azide cycloaddition reaction between glucans.
Synthesis of injectable dextran hydrogels. 
- Wasiak, Iga, et al. PLoS One, 2016, 11(1), e0146237.
- Unterweger, Harald, et al. International journal of nanomedicine, 2017, 5223-5238.
- Wang, Xiaoyu, et al. Materials Science and Engineering: C, 2017, 73, 21-30.
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